As of this writing, the Chapel has hosted two services of Morning Prayer online using Google Meet. Tonight Celebrate! Plans to live stream on Facebook. Rev. Dr. Fred Niedner is ready to preach this coming Sunday and Candlelight will be online Sunday night. It’s not the same as being together and hearing one another’s voices, but it’s what we can do in the current circumstances and it’s good to do because it’s a way of reminding ourselves of that which is most true.
Not that we all continue to “soldier on” regardless of the circumstances. Those of us who have been moving to online learning know that there are all sorts of ways that our work together needs to be adjusted and in some cases abandoned in order to accommodate itself to our present circumstances. We don’t just keep doing what we’ve been doing for the sake of proving our grit as though that would be some sort of win.
Rather, what is most true is that the Body of Christ remains (and gathers any way it can) because the love of Christ remains. This is the love that most completely expresses God’s radical commitment of abiding love and compassion to the whole of creation – even in the midst of a pandemic. God’s love and mercy will never run out.
We get the sense, as we read his Letter to the Romans, that the people to whom Paul writes were under intense pressure. He describes the time of their struggle as a time of hope precisely because all the evidence of God’s favor seemed absent from their lives. If they can see their good times, then there’s no need to hope for them. In fact, signs of divine favor seemed so absent that Paul describes all of creation as groaning under the same burden. It’s a creation-wide crisis of suffering! But notice the language Paul uses to describe this reality, the groaning of creation is that which leads to life. There is hope, even in the suffering.
There is hope in the suffering because the God of life is present in the suffering, ironically, paradoxically, creatively revealing the most essential reality of God’s presence in the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross.
The Chapel of the Resurrection and indeed all of Valparaiso University is a community under the Cross. As such, we are a people who are not scattered by suffering, even when the most compassionate thing that we can do for our neighbor, the most prudent strategic response to the circumstances of this disease, is to stay at least 6 feet from one another.
We are blessed in this time to have tools that allow us to make evident our spiritual connection to one another by gathering online. In such gatherings, we’ll have space before and after to connect with one another – we encourage all to keep their mics open and greet one another. Then we settle into a time of prayer and reflection, led by a member of the community. We’ll hear scripture, sing and offer prayer on behalf of all who are impacted by COVID-19. On Sunday mornings as well as Sunday and Wednesday nights, one of our regular preachers will share a message of Gospel hope.
In addition to these formal gatherings, both of us (DK and PJ) continue to be available to meet online or over the phone with anyone who would like to connect. You can continue to utilize our youcanbook.me links or reach out via email or text to set up a time. We have been created to live in community with one another, learning how to do this with social distancing can be a challenge, but not impossible.
There’s lots of uncertainty in these days. Of this we are certain, that we will be here, we will be expecting you, and through it all God abides with us.
March 18, 2020
Pastor Jim & Deaconess Kristin